There are a lot of questions, and I won't go through them all. Some
notable points include:
they won't change the road markings near the Prince of Wales
roundabout, to give more space to traffic going uphill, because of
'geometry levels of traffic', whatever that is, and 'prohibitive
cost of linking in a cycle route'.
they are going to look at the crossing from Beech Grove onto
Otley Road during the detailed design stage.
they don't want to give pedestrians crossing West End Avenue, as
they walk up or down Otley Road, priority over traffic.
on the other hand, this is one of the questions: 'Can you
install pedestrian crossings at Wordsworth Crescent, Queens Road
and Victoria Road set one car length back?'; and this is the
answer: 'Uncontrolled pedestrian crossings are being provided at
all side roads'. That seems to contradict the previous answer
about West End Avenue, depending on what 'uncontrolled pedestrian
crossings' turn out to be. Perhaps they are a useless bit of paint
giving no priority*.
the traffic signals team can investigate the light-controlled
crossing near West End Avenue, and whether the lights can change
more quickly to allow people to cross. (Don't hold your breath for
any action from them). Apparently crossings of Otley Road at Beech
Grove and Victoria Road are being considered, which would mean
lots of options.
they don't want to segregate their proposed shared use path
outside So Bar & Eats; they say that experienced cyclists
should stay on the road here, and nervous ones on the footpath. I
would say that is the worst response anywhere in the document. The
reason why cycle infrastructure in the UK has been such a failure
in my whole lifetime, is that we build inconvenient rubbish that
people only use if they are terrified, and ignore otherwise - or
they don't cycle at all. What we need is cycle routes that are of
good enough quality that everyone already on a bike uses them, and
which attract new people on two wheels. The pavement outside the
pub is busy, and not wide enough to be practical for cycling. That
part of the proposed design is awful and should be changed.
they are going to put 'end of route/cyclists dismount' signs
where their cycleway stops. That is an admission of failure on a
signpost. It helps absolutely nobody. Those of us who ride bikes
are pretty cool, but we can't teleport ourselves to another
location. Those signs are supposed to be used only as a last
resort, as government guidance makes clear, but they are sprinkled
liberally around Harrogate, as though NYCC had a surplus and
needed to clear some warehouse space. It may be that council
officials imagine people mounting and dismounting their bikes all
the time; in the real world, people want continuity - to get going
and keep going. Absolutely the last thing they want to do is keep
hopping on and off their bikes. In genuinely cycling-friendly
countries like the Netherlands, they just don't have these daft
*A look on the web turned up this link, which confirms that
'uncontrolled crossings' are 95% useless. They have dropped kerbs,
but other than that, they are not really crossings at all. As
Clackmannanshire Council's website makes clear, 'Drivers are not
required to stop at an uncontrolled crossing point. The pedestrian
must wait at the kerb until there is a suitable gap in traffic to
allow them to cross, and should only then cross with due care and
attention...Pedestrians must not cross until there is a safe gap in
the traffic and there is plenty of time to cross. Even if traffic is
a long way off, it may be approaching very quickly.'
So pedestrians are getting crossings where they
have no priority and have to dodge the traffic, and if they get run
over, it will be their own fault. That's unbelievably poor.
Remember, these are residential streets, which should be for people
not cars. Pedestrians should be considered first, according to the
hierarchy of road users, but they are not - cars are given priority.
It is a big step forward that the cycle route is to be given
priority over side roads, but a big step backwards that pedestrians
It's no good councils just saying that they are in
favour of walking - they have to back up their words with actions,
otherwise those words are hollow. Instead of planning for growth in
traffic by 2035, NYCC should be planning for a reduction in traffic,
and making walking and cycling by far the most convenient ways of
travelling on Otley Road.
Road segregated cycle route: timetable slips once again
NYCC was successful with a bid for funding from central
government. The sum is £4.6 million, and it is to pay for
improvements to junctions on Otley Road, 'smart' traffic lights,
and better pedestrian crossings, as well as the cycle route. It is
called the West
Harrogate improvement package.
The cycle route is much needed. It is a short distance from
the residential areas here into town - easily done in a very few
minutes by bike. At the moment, people are expected to put their
lives in danger by mixing with heavy traffic, which can't be
The cycle route must be safe, with physical protection from
The cycle route must be convenient. That means it should be
continuous - there is no place for 'end of route' signs in the
middle of routes because the council can't work out how to do a
particular section. It also means it must have priority over
side roads and driveways: if you make it give way to motorised
traffic on every occasion, it will be useless. People who
already ride bikes won't use it, plus it won't attract any new
cyclists, and therefore won't do anything to increase active
travel and reduce congestion.
It should be part of a complete network. The main connecting
route into and out of the town centre is Beech Grove,
which is a bad cycle route. A cycle-friendly route, either on
Beech Grove or across the Stray, needs to be created - not in 5
or 10 years' time, but urgently.
So-called smart traffic lights should not be an excuse for
giving even more priority to vehicles. People on foot should be
the first priority. Otley Road is a barrier to walking, because
it has few crossings, and people are made to wait for an
unconscionable length of time before they are allowed to cross.
Lights should turn green for pedestrians as soon as they press
the button, unless someone has just crossed. Also, people should
be given a reasonable amount of time to cross, not made to
scurry over the road as though they are an afterthought and a
A pedestrian and cycle crossing is needed where the corner of
West Park Stray meets Otley Road, by Beech Grove.
The article did have quotes from NYCC Councillor Mackenzie, with
some useful information. The responses to the consultation are to
be analysed. The exact timetable isn't clear, but the first
section is not likely to be built by the time of the Tour de
Yorkshire (May 2019); the first section will be finished by the
UCI 2019 World Championships (September 2019). (This has now been
delayed again - see 15th March 2019 post above).
In August 2017, Hedgehog
Cycling reported that the county council had made a bid for
DfT funding for, amongst other things, junction improvements and the
segregated cycle track.
On 30th November 2017, the Harrogate
Advertiser reported that the bid was successful. Some work was
due to begin in March 2018, and the creation of the cycle track was
scheduled for July 2018. No work appears to have started at the time
of writing (mid-June 2018).
All Harrogate residents value the Stray. I've never seen anyone
playing frisbee or having a picnic on the Otley Road verges, though.
It would be awful. Almost any replacement land would have more
amenity value - particularly Stray Rein and Coach Road, currently
used for parking cars.
A segregated cycle route on Otley Road is essential.
Otley Road segregated cycle route: why it is essential
People do use Otley Road on bikes, but my observation is that about
half of them find sharing the main carriageway with traffic too
hostile an environment, and choose to ride along the pavement
instead. If all drivers followed rule 163 of the
Highway Code when overtaking, there would be no problem, but
they do not. In fact, a Highway Code overtake is a rarity on Otley
Road, with most drivers choosing to pass leaving much less space.
Harrogate suffers from congestion problems. People should have a
genuine choice about whether to drive and sit in (and worsen) the
traffic jams, or whether to use a bike for short distances around
town. At the moment too many people don't feel safe cycling, so it
is not an option for them.
The air quality on Otley Road is unacceptably poor. I know this
from walking on the pavement, and breathing the traffic exhaust
fumes. I don't know exactly how bad the air pollution is, because
Harrogate BC do not measure it - they say that most of the houses
are set back a bit, so they don't have to carry out measurements.
We know that diesel exhaust fumes in particular are very damaging
to our health. The fumes are damaging the health of people in the
area, including the pupils breathing them in on the way to the
schools on and near Otley Road. A safe bike route will at least give
people a choice about whether to add to the pollution or not.
Consideration should also be given as to whether to follow the
example of London and exclude the most polluting vehicles from the
centre of town.
segregated cycle route: it must be safe and convenient
Like the rest of the UK, Harrogate has more than enough poor
quality, non user-friendly 'cycle infrastructure', which is often
ignored by people who already cycle, and does not attract new
cyclists. We're even building
new sub-standard cycle routes now.
I'm not going to go into all the factors that make or break cycle
infrastructure, but while the Otley Road route is still being
planned, and before mistakes are set in concrete, I would like to
say, 'give it priority over side roads'.
If you build a route that gives way to every side road, you may as
well not bother. It's just the same as riding on the pavement. The
people who currently ride on the pavement will use the cycle track,
and everyone else will ignore it.
When cycling, you want a bit of continuity - to be able to get
going and keep going, not stop at every side road. If you're going
straight on, you should have priority over side roads; if you're
turning, give way. It's not asking for special treatment - just for
the same priority rules as for vehicles. (While we're about it, we
could give the pavement priority over turning vehicles at side
roads, as in the photo above).
The alternative is that vehicles on Otley Road (and any bikes that
use the road) have priority over side roads, but the bike route
doesn't. The message would be: if you're in a car, you're important,
if you're on a bike, you're not. It won't encourage people to use
the bike route, and won't attract more cyclists.
To be clear, if the bike route is to give way to all the
side roads, it will be a waste of time, and personally I
won't support it or use it. Let's hope that's not the case.
Otley Road segregated cycle route: another example of what is
We have got too used to nearly all the space and priority on roads
being given to private cars, and everyone else being crammed into
what remains, and made to scuttle across roads, dodging vehicles.
Enough is enough.
The image shows what we must start building in 2019: streets with
proper provision and proper priority for people on foot and riding
Of course we can't make Otley Road as wide as the street in the
image, but we can put in crossings of side roads with priority, and
And there are streets in Harrogate that are wide, such as Leeds
Road/West Park. The problem is, cars are given two lanes, plus
parking either side. It's time to implement a more reasonable and
equitable use of space there, too.
A poll of 2,000 British adults for Cycling UK reveals the top
reasons why more people don't cycle. They include sharing the road
with large vehicles and close passes. What would encourage more
people to ride bikes? Find out about the
Cycling UK poll.
The Campaign for Rural England have shown that new road projects
generate extra traffic - over and above the increases which would
have happened otherwise. Their report is based on Highways England
data. This is relevant to the bypass which the county council is
seeking to impose on Harrogate & Knaresborough. Read about the
Impact of Roads report.